Quotes of the Duke of Wellington

  • The hardest thing of all for a soldier is to retreat.

  • Educate people without religion and you make them but clever devils.

  • The Lord's prayer contains the sum total of religion and morals.

  • I used to say of him [Napoleon] that his presence on the field made the difference of forty thousand men.

  • I don't know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they frighten me.

  • Nothing except a battle lost can be half as melancholy as a battle won.

  • The whole art of war consists in getting at what is on the other side of the hill.

  • All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavor to find out what you don't know by what you do; that's what I called 'guessing what was at the other side of the hill.'

  • It has been a damned serious business - Blücher and I have lost 30,000 men. It has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life...By God! I don't think it would have done if I had not been there.

  • Yes, and they went down very well too.
    - A retort to a comment on how very well French cavalry had come up at Waterloo.

  • Up, Guards, and at 'em.
  • It is very true that I have said that I considered Napoleon's presence in the field equal to forty thousand men in the balance. This is a very loose way of talking; but the idea is a very different one from that of his presence at a battle being equal to a reinforcement of forty thousand men.

  • I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life.
    - Of the British Parliament.

  • My rule always was to do the business of the day in the day.

  • The only thing I am afraid of is fear.

  • People talk of their enlisting from their fine military feeling - all stuff - no such thing. Some of our men enlist from having got bastard children -- some for minor offences -- many more for drink.

  • Hard pounding, gentlemen. Let's see who pounds the longest.

  • Wise people learn when they can; fools learn when they must.

  • We always have been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France.

  • As Lord Chesterfield said of the generals of his day, 'I only hope that when the enemy reads the list of their names, he trembles as I do.'"

  • The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton.
    attributed to Wellington, but doubtful.

  • Ours (our army) is composed of the scum of the earth - the mere scum of the earth.

  • Publish and be damned.
    - Replying to a blackmail threat.

  • My Lord,
    If I attempted to answer the mass of futile correspondence which surrounds me, I should be debarred from the serious business of campaigning...
    So long as I retain an independent position, I shall see no officer under my command is debarred by attending to the futile driveling of mere quill-driving from attending to his first duty, which is and always has been to train the private men under his command that they may without question beat any force opposed to them in the field.
    - To the Secretary of State for War during the Peninsular Campaign

  • I mistrust the judgement of every man in a case in which his own wishes are concerned.

  • Be discreet in all things, and so render it unnecessary to be mysterious about any.

  • Being born in a stable does not make one a horse
    - A retort to being called Irish.

  • It has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life, by God!

    Another Side to the Iron Duke

    The Duke once met a little boy, crying by the road. "Come now, that's no way for a young gentleman to behave. What's the matter?" he asked.
    "I have to go away to school tomorrow," sobbed the child, "and I'm worried about my pet toad. There's no-one else to care for it and I shan't know how it is."
    Keen to ease the little chap's discomfort, the Duke promised to attend to the matter personally.
    After the boy had been at school for just over a week, he received a note: "Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington presents his compliments to Master ---- and has the pleasure to inform him that his toad is well."

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